When Harriet Ericson died in January 2007 at age 93, she went to the grave in the same manner in which she lived her final years—lovingly tended by her son Rodger Ericson of Austin, Texas. A former U.S. Air Force chaplain and Lutheran pastor (ELCA), Ericson bathed, anointed and dressed his mother’s body, then laid it in a casket he had built himself and named “hope chest” to reflect the family’s faith in the resurrection. The next day, with the help of his daughters and grandsons, he lifted her casketed remains into the bed of his pickup truck and secured the precious cargo for a road trek to Minnesota, where a family grave plot was waiting.
Except for the preparation of the grave, Ericson took care of all the details that would usually be handed to a commercial mortician. Ericson was, in effect, his mother’s funeral director—and it was all completely legal.